Welcome to the Ex-Official Blog of Writer, Presenter & Crafts Expert Momtaz Begum-Hossain which stopped being active on 31st August 2016.

For more regular updates follow Momtaz on Twitter: @TheCraftCafe Instagram: @The_CraftCafe Vine: @TheCraftCafe Periscope: @TheCraftCafe Snapchat: Momtazbh

For workshop bookings, writing commissions, presenting jobs, craft project designs, or any kind of enquiry email contact@momtazbh.co.uk

Momtaz's NEW BLOG is www.craftandtravel.com

Thursday 30 June 2011

My trip to the London Jewellery School

Tutor's samples
Buttons, buttons, buttons...they are one of those extremely useful crafty materials that have so many more uses than just fastening up your clothes. Even displayed in jars they look lovely...infact I'm such a button fan it explains why I have button wallpaper. So when the London Jewellery School invited me to try out one of their classes, the Button Jewellery Taster was my immediate choice. I've seen button jewellery adorn the necks of many fine women and met some who've said they've made their creations themselves, but I've never has a chance to figure out how it was done until now.

The London Jewellery School is just off Hatton Garden the jewellery making hub of London which is filled with endless high end diamond specialists and jewellery stores. The school opened in 2008 and is an independent place to come and learn how to make jewellery. There are over 100 courses to choose from short one off three hour sessions like the one I signed up for to longer day time and evening courses. 
You can also rent kilns and use their studio spaces to make your own jewellery and use their equipment if you havent got any of your own or anywhere to work at home. 
Workshops include making your own wedding rings, children's parties, beading, enameling, silver, metal clay and lots more! There are over 20 professional tutors who lead the sessions so lots of inspiring people to get you motivated about making your own jewellery.
The button session was run by accessories designer Chu-Mei Ho. We started with a bracelet and the first step was choosing the buttons - the hardest bit ...it was a case of so many buttons, not enough time!
It's best to mix up the sizes
I stuck with layers of two beads but some students opted for three layers, any more than that would be a bit heavy.
Each button was looped through and overalapped for a bracelet
We threaded a piece of DMC memory thread through the back of each button, which measured double the length of the design. My fellow classmates were impressed with my ability to create a composition that went so well with my outfit!
Arranging my necklace
Once we'd threaded it through, we tied the thread at the back of the last bead, trimmed the ends ad closed them with folding crimps before attaching a jump ring and clasp at each end. We then had free range to make a second item and I opted for a button necklace because I've spent ages trying to find a summer statement piece to no avail.
Class in progress
All around the table everyone was engrossed. One participant came along to learn how to make a button bracelet so she could use it as an activity for her daughter's 8th birthday. It's actually very straight forward for kids, the only tricky bit is attaching the fastenings.
Yippee! New jewellery
 I am soooooooo proud of my work! I love my necklace and bracelet set, they surpassed all my expectations - especially the necklace. I've been searching for a summer necklace for months and here it finally is!
When can I come back?

It's just so satisfying having nothing, sitting down, making something and all of a sudden owning something new. I am soooooooo proud of my work! I love my necklace and bracelet set, they surpassed all my expectations - especially the necklace - I aim to wear it all season!

The course costs £35 which for an evening activity is excellent considering you get to keep what you made, you go away with new skills and can fit sessions in around to suit your lifestyle. I've always found with longer courses I end up missing one or two classes because life gets in the way but with lots of one off courses you know you'll get results. I was also really impressed with the facilities, very handy shop and the fact you can book the spaces for your own projects - great idea and brilliant concept. A definite recommendation. Also taster sessions are a great activity to do if you're catching up with a friend or just want to do something on your own.

Friday 17 June 2011

Dick Bruna
Inspired by Crafty Chica's recent blog post on random photos I woke up this morning (I'm having a day off so it's ok to indulge) and decide to post all the photos I have of me and famous people. Not that I've met many but if I was on Facebook I would post them there and since I'm not, they are just hidden away on my computer....but no more!! I shall be adding any future ones to this post so I can have a gallery condensed in one place. 
Sadly there are no dates (I forgot to do that) and they are in no order of importance apart from image number 1....Dick Bruna, the man who invented Miffy. He is a genius and for me, the most exciting famous person ever. When I heard he was in Londinium I literally had to chase him around town to all the various bookshops he was at until I could finally get in the queue to meet him. What a legend!
Abhishek Bachchan
 Abhishek Bachchan was the first Bollywood star I interviewed and what struck me was that when he entered the room he commanded instant attention. He was like a hologram, and probably the most well dressed person I've ever seen - totally pristine suit, expensive watch, all round A'List vibe around him.
John Abraham
Where to begin? Bollywood hunk John Abraham is the best looking man on the planet, when I heard he was filming in Brick Lane one Sunday morning I dropped everything and hung outside his trailer until the lovely crew knocked on his door and asked him to come out and meet me!!!! I'm not ashamed, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Hrithik Roshan
I interviewed Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan about his waxwork that had just been unveiled at Madam Tussauds and he looked like a waxwork himself. He was the perfect interviewee, a total talker but very interested and switched on.
Raj & Pablo are my favourite DJs, without them my life wouldn't be the same, their weekend show on BBC Asian Network is a must listen and their monthly Bollywood clubnight is one of the most fun nights out in town. That's my good friend Bosun with us.
Soha Ali Khan and Sharmila Tagore
 Soha is Sharmila's daughter who is a Bollywood super sensation. Someone as A'List as this is hard to talk to as there really is nothing to say but her daughter, also a Bollywood actress was sooooooo approachable, I wish she was one of my friends.
Sarfraz Manzoor
I met Sarfraz when I recently filmed a snippet for BBC Newsnight - he's a journalist but I only got myself photographed with him because my sister is a big fan!
Tasmin Lucia Khan
And another journalist, this time a TV newsreader - she's currently on ITV's Daybreak. I interviewed her about what it was like to care for someone who has cancer and I was very impressed. She spent all morning at a photoshoot then went to work (she was presenting BBc 60 Seconds then) until midnight whilst she was fasting for Ramadan. 
This is a random desi rnb? hiphop? dance music star? I interviewed him in Birmingham at an Asian music awards event. I can't remember his name but I'm sure he had a Canadian accent and his music had a Sean Paul/Jamaican vibe?? Anyone recognise him?
When I heard Barbie was at my local toy store I had to get down their with my niece who was only a few months old (she's 6 years old this month!) Note her hat, it's a pink wollley one with curly blonde hair attached, this is what they sell in Bangladesh to make kids look pretty!
This Radio 1 DJ and TV presenter said to me last week when I took this at Hampstead Theatre 'you do know I'm actually not Rastamouse, I'm Reggie Yates?'......who is he fooling.....he IS Rastamouse whether he admits it or not (he voices the character, that's enough for me).

So there you have it, some photos of me and famous people. I know, I haven't met many but I'm proud of these pics anyway! More to follow maybe if I ever meet any more!!

Friday 10 June 2011

Trip to Kew Ceramic Cafe

If the truth be told despite me having an obsession with craft cafes, ceramic cafes have never appealed. I like the idea of painting plain ceramics but going to a cafe to paint with friends seems a bit odd. I probably never would have tried it had it not been for the fact Matt and I were given a voucher to spend at a ceramic cafe in Kew Gardens. We didn't have a clue what we'd end up painting, we own far too many mugs, don't need any plates or bowls and didn't want any tacky ornaments.
There was racks of  items to choose from, lots of bowls in all shapes and sizes - none of which we needed and there was plenty of tack!
As ceramic cafes go, it was a very small and quiet one but they do have a fantastic room upstairs for private parties for which you can bring along your own food. And it makes a change to go somewhere that feels a little more private than most places on a Saturday afternoon.
 Realising neither of us own a watch or have any clocks in the house we chose the above.
I loved the cafe's attention to detail, everything around us from the plate they serve the biccies on to the  signage was hand painted providing lots of inspiration - and of course we needed a cuppa before we started.
 The obvious choice for the theme was Miss P, our African Pygmy Hedgehog who passed away recently : (
 The paints look a very different colour to when you paint with them and how they come out after firing.
 We took on different roles, I did lots of the painting and double coats.
While Matt was responsible for the overall design and details

And here is Miss P surrounded by her favourite things - stinky shoes and socks, yellow chicken biscuits, her wheel and the rock she used to hide in. There is actually a story going on in the picture too, her bum is sticking out and she's grinning, a sign she's about to go and do a number 2 in the bushes - something she loved doing in the park!

We spent 2-3 hours on the design which was a relaxing and welcomed break to reality. It was so satisfying to do something 'complete' and give it all our attention without any distractions. We also felt it helped with our mourning and seeing the clock up in the living rooms makes us happy.

As for ceramic cafes, I was so wrong. They are very fun places, a bit pricey if you are paying but far more pleasant than buying ceramic paints and doing it yourself. It's nice to take a break from home, leave it for a few days then go back to collect it and be suprised by the results. I'm definately going back!